This two lesson series includes a drama technique I am working with for the first time this school year. This Nova documentary about the discovery of the structure of DNA with an emphasis on the work of Rosalin Franklin is one students enjoy every year. By adding in a second day to reenact and question the scenarios presented from multiple perspectives, students gain a broader understanding of the discovery of DNA. The drama strategy approach is a great pre-writing activity that allows students to engage in multiple content related conversations in a playful, enjoyable way.
On Day 1, students view the documentary and respond to individual reflection questions. We wrap up with a whole group check in to clarify any areas that are unclear for students. Standard(s): W.9-10.2d, SL.9-10.1, SL.9-10.1a, SL.9-10.1d, SL.9-10.3, RST.9-10.1, RST.9-10.2, RST.9-10.6, HS-LS3-1, SP7, SP8, XC-SF-HS-2
During Day 2, students take on the roles of the characters represented in the movie and interview each other about the scenarios presented in the film. Standard(s): W.9-10.2d, SL.9-10.1, SL.9-10.1a, SL.9-10.1d, SL.9-10.3, RST.9-10.1, RST.9-10.2, RST.9-10.6, HS-LS3-1, SP7, SP8, XC-SF-HS-2
The use of drama strategies is a new area of exploration for me as a teacher this semester and the student response has been overwhelmingly positive. The opportunity to be creative, approach content from multiple perspectives, and be physically active has energized my class at a time of the school year when students begin to feel the fatigue of the academic school year. I look forward to hearing about the strategies you employ to keep our students actively engaged throughout our school year together!
1. Tell students that today you will be watching a NOVA documentary about the discovery of the structure of DNA called The Secret of Photo 51. For all teachers who are visual learners, here is the cover of the The Secret of Photo 51 movie box so you can more easily find it. There are other options for movies about this topic, but I feel NOVA's treatment of both the science and the historical/social context surrounding the process of creating an accurate model of DNA is one of the best.
2. Pass out the Rosalind Franklin movie question document. Set up the expectations for the day:
Students will view the movie thoughtfully. (translation: no sleeping!)
Students can choose to fill out the question document as they watch the video or they can decide to watch first and then fill out the document before the next class session.
3. Show the video.
4. While students are watching, watch with them. If that is not possible, be sure to sit in the back so that you do not distract students as you attend to other classroom tasks. In general, NOVA videos are well produced with famous narrators that students will recognize and be curious to listen to in relation to the subject being studied. On a personal note, I so rarely show full length videos that when I do, students are already curious and engaged enough to participate as active viewers!
5. What student engagement during movie viewing class sessions looks like and how to help them achieve this:
1. Ask students to look over their reflection questions document with their lab group and specify any specific questions that immediately jump out at them as an issue needing immediate clarification. Use the spokesperson protocol to hear from each group.
The three most important questions students should understand include:
2. Field any clarifying questions before the bell, reminding student to bring in their completed document tomorrow in preparation for the next activity in this two day lesson series.
Note: Most clarifying questions other than the three listed above are about small details such as dates. For those questions, I tell students to look up more information online at the Nova movie companion website or other sources. Here is a student work sample showing typical responses to each question. I did not require students to type the assignment, but this student did; you can set your own expectations for written work based upon the number of papers you will be grading!
And now on to Day 2!